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Ricks Hall, N.C. State College, Raleigh, N.C.

Our feature postcard for Flashback Friday this week is of Ricks Hall, located on the NC State University campus. Although the card depicts a historic campus landmark, we find interest not so much in the card itself, but more as a glimpse into American radio programming history.

Addressed to ‘Ronson Twenty Questions’ —

The Father of Poetry

Mrs. Lily Barefoot
Hallsboro, N.C.

Animal, vegetable, or mineral? Is it bigger than a breadbox? ‘Twenty Questions’ was a popular American radio quiz show, first broadcast in 1946 from New York City by the Mutual Broadcasting System. Radio listeners sent in subjects for the panelists to guess in 20 questions. Listeners who stumped the panel won a lifetime subscription to Pageant magazine. From 1946 to 1951, the program was sponsored by Ronson Lighters. In 1952-53, Wildroot Cream-Oil hair tonic had a short stint as the sponsor. The final radio broadcast of Twenty Questions aired in 1954. A television version of the show ran from 1950 to 1955.

Hmm, the ‘father of poetry’ — I wonder if Mrs. Barefoot won the lifetime subscription to Pageant.

Ronson brand lighters are still being produced today, but — and now for the $64,000 question — how about Wildroot Cream-Oil — Is that stuff still around?

Ricks Hall was built in 1922 to house NC State University’s Agricultural Extension Service. It was designed by Thomas W. Cooper, partner in the Raleigh architectural firm of Nelson and Cooper. Nelson and Cooper also designed the well-known Beaux Arts, classically-styled state Agriculture Building in downtown Raleigh (1923). Cooper himself designed many of the period-styled homes in the Hayes Barton neighborhood in the 1920s and ’30s.

Photo courtesy Special Collections, NCSU Libraries

Ricks Hall, seen above, as it appeared new in the early 1920s; and below, more recently, in 2005.

Photo courtesy Special Collections, NCSU Libraries

Ricks Hall now houses the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Personnel Office and Information Technology Unit. The building was renovated in 2006.

The buff brick and Ionic colonnade of this four-story building are as impressive as the programs they house, which are dedicated to better living in North Carolina. The building has a total area of 51,143 square feet and is named after Robert Henry Ricks (1839-1920).

Ricks was a trustee of NC State for many years and provided funds for a history of the Civil War to be written by D. H. Hill [for whom DH Hill Library is named]. [Ricks’] interest in NC State was further demonstrated by his service in the 1903 legislature, which provided appropriations for much of the early development of the University. Ricks was also interested in the research and development of farm crops and methods, especially the cultivation of bright-leaf tobacco. He became successful in business in Rocky Mount, serving as director and later as president of the Rocky Mount Cotton Mills, and as a director of other mills.

— Facilities Division, NC State University

Our featured “Natural Finish” postcard this week was published locally by Gray and Thompson Advertising of Chapel Hill.

“Flashback Friday” is a weekly feature of Goodnight, Raleigh! in which we showcase vintage postcards depicting our historic capital city. We hope you enjoy this week end treat!

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